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Mimishu1995's avatar

I have recently handed down a Master thesis to my school library. Do you want to ask me anything?

Asked by Mimishu1995 (17835points) 1 month ago

As the suggestion of someone on the other thread, I have decided to make a thread about my thesis. You can ask me questions about it, from the process of getting it done to the subject of the research :)

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22 Answers

cookieman's avatar

First off…YAAY! CONGRATULATIONS!!

Master’s Thesis are no joke and that is a huge accomplishment.

What was your topic of research and what did you title it?

janbb's avatar

All righty! That’s great. I too want to knowtne topic.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Congratulations!!! You contributed to the World’s knowledge base.

I’d like to know the topic and how you became interested in it.

cookieman's avatar

Oh, and…what do you hope to do now that you’ve earned your degree?

gorillapaws's avatar

Do you have to do an oral “defense” of your thesis with your department?

cookieman's avatar

@gorillapaws: Oooh, the dreaded Oral Defense. That was no fun.

kritiper's avatar

Can I keep a copy of it in my jockey box?

Mimishu1995's avatar

OK. First off, the topic. I did a research on language patterns of autistic people through a case-study of an autistic man called Christian Weston Chandler. The man is quite a legend on the Internet. You can just search him on the Internet. But long story short, one day he had an idea of merging Sonic and Pikachu into a character called Sonichu and drew comics about it. That and his other weird behavior attracted trolls on the Internet and things went downhill from there. The trolls set up a website to document his videos, phone calls, etc… And this is where I got my data from.

I came across this topic quite randomly. It was the beginning of my Master course and I was leisurely watching Youtube at home. I came across this video talking about toxic fans in the Sonic fandom, and the man showed up at one point. For some reason I took an interest in the man and started googling him. It started a rabbit hole that I felt so deep I would spend time looking at the above-mentioned website everyday. Fastforwards to the end of a psychology linguistics class, which briefly mentioned autism. Our final assignment was to write a research paper about one of the things we had learned in the class. With nothing to write about, I thought to myself “Hey, why not write about the autistic guy?” At this point I had already acquired a decent knowledge of the man’s background, and I worked on the paper successfully. The thesis I wrote was actually an expansion on that assignment :) The original purpose of the research paper was to offer a more sympathetic look on the man, as I noticed that a lot of his strange language that led him to being trolled was not his intention, unlike a lot of people think. And this was also the purpose of the thesis.

The thesis itself was also kind of a believe-in-yourself story. The Master course I took was on English Linguistics, and we were supposed to write thesis on topics that was purely related to linguistics, and the psychology class I took was just a side subject for a bit more outside knowledge. So the topic I chose actually gave me a lot of trouble when I tried to find a supervisor. Most people were scared to touch on the matter either because of the stigma surrounding autism or because they didn’t feel that the topic could go anywhere. One kind man liked the topic, but couldn’t take me in because he already had enough students to supervise. Not to mention while the topic was still in its proposal form, I had to change a lot of the wording so that it didn’t stray too far away from pure linguistics or my topic would be dismissed during the defense day of the proposal thanks God it passed. Finally, after being kicked out by several people, I finally landed myself on a relatively unknown teacher who liked my topic immediately. She is now the teacher that I mentioned sometimes here, and I have never regretted meeting her. She has been one of the kindest teachers I have met and managed to earn my respect.

And I’m sorry, I can’t give you the exact title of my thesis publicly. If you know enough about the autistic man in my thesis, you will know that the people who keep track of him are vicious and dangerous. They come from sites like 4chan, and they have been known to attack anyone who they don’t like, and their standard of “likeable” is very unpredictable. So I want that in the worst case scenario, they won’t be able to track down my account on this site, and you know how important Fluther is for me. I can show you the title in PM if you are interested though.

@gorillapaws Yes. And the defense part is also an entire adventure by itself :) I’m going to retell that story tomorrow. It’s late now.

Jeruba's avatar

Very interesting and resourceful. Was this a thesis for a master’s degree? Are you an M.A. now?

Demosthenes's avatar

@Mimishu1995 Yay linguistics!

(I distinctly remember CWC and Sonichu and all that. Sounds like an interesting relevant paper).

cookieman's avatar

I really the DIY nature of how you came up with and pursued you very interesting topic. Love it.

snowberry's avatar

Mimi, I’m so very proud of you! You’re one of the hardest working (and smartest and kindest) people I know. Great job!

kritiper's avatar

Congratulations on your accomplishment.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Ho’omaikai! It sounds like a great accomplishment.

cookieman's avatar

So what are you hoping to do now @Mimishu1995 ?

LostInParadise's avatar

Could you give a rough idea of what you found in investigating the relationship between autism and linguistics?

Mimishu1995's avatar

OK, the story of my defense day: so I don’t know about the US, but in my country other teachers from other cities would come to a school to be judges for the defense day to ensure objectivity maybe. They would blend with the teachers in my school in the judges. So one day before the defense day my class had a welcome party at a restaurant for those people. We had been given the list of judges for each student beforehand, so we knew who were going to be our judges and in which room. So each student spent some time familiarizing themselves with the judges and to be honest I didn’t even know some teachers in my school either :P At one point a judge (from another school) was talking to me and two other people, as he was the judge of all three of us at different time in the schedule, and he commented on our thesis, offering feedback. When he came to me, he said that my work was “unusually good”. I thanked him but didn’t think much of that.

On the defense day, after the ceremony, we went to defense our thesis one-by-one. I had to go home because my turn was in the early afternoon and I needed to get enough rest. While at home I received a message from my teacher. She told me that some judge just came to her and asked if she was my supervisor, then showered her with praised out of nowhere. That was the very same judge that talked to me the day before. He and my teacher had never met, and he was telling her that he had never seen anything so well-done before! My teacher said that this was the sign that I shouldn’t be worried too much about my presentation.

The presentation went much faster than I expected. That same judge asked some questions that I thought would be hard for some people who didn’t do thorough research, but it wasn’t an issue for me. One of the questions was “do you notice any sign of “learning” from the man? Like, did he learn how to produce responses that matched the intention of the normal people through repeated exposure?” That was exactly what I had been telling myself while looking through my data! The judge then gave me feedback at the end of the presentation, basically saying that my research had all the things a real research should have. He then asked me to add a section called “discussion”, which is basically a commentary of my result. Now here one would expect each judge to hold a document about the feedback on the thesis and hand it down to the student when the defense day is over. But that judge was so impressed by my thesis that he gave me the paper right after my presentation and tell my teacher what I should do in details. That gave me a great advantage in getting things ready before everyone else. Oh, and my teacher came to watch my presentation too :)

The more frustrating part was the process of getting my copy to the library. I couldn’t hand it in right away. I had to fill out a document detailing the changes I made after the defense day and have the head of the department sign it. But that woman was just so elusive I couldn’t get a hold of her. I had an appointment with her at 7:30 a.m at the school and when I came she was busy grading some papers! Her representative came to check my document instead. The woman was also super demanding, and she refused to sign my paper unless my teacher sign it first. That day I had to do a 30 minute ride back and forth from the school to my teacher’s house then back to the school again just for a single signature I think I scared my teacher. She constantly asked me to be careful on the street as she signed my papers. I got my document signed at last, but I was just angry when I left the school. Well, at least I got to hand it down just before this current outbreak.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@cookieman In the beginning I was hoping to get a job as somewhere “big”, like a college. But now I know that it takes more than a Master degree to get there, I’m kind of satified with my current job. But the knowledge I acquired from the course was incredible. It has changed the way I think completely. A lot of people have told me to apply for a Ph.D, but I don’t know if that will be a thing in the near future. I’ll just wait and see. In the meantime, I’m going to apply my knowledge on other practical things in my life, such as doing research for my next story :)

Oh, and I also want to connect more with my teacher too. We have been talking about nothing but work, but I want our relationship to be more than just that. The first thing I’m going to do is to call her and ask her how she is doing in the midst of the outbreak…

cookieman's avatar

Thank you for sharing all that Mimi. The story of your defense day sounds fun and stressful. Just what I’d expect from such a day. I’m glad it went so well and that that outside teacher liked your work so much. Those are great compliments and feedback to receive.

I think your post thesis goals sound very reasonable. As always, you continue to impress. I really enjoyed reading about your experience.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Mimishu1995 I am so impressed with your story about your defense day. Congratulations! My ideas are from very far away from you and may not be exactly what you need, but I also believe you should apply to PhD programs. The world needs good researchers with high level educations.

All the best to you with whatever you decide to do.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@LostInParadise OK, so I’m going to summarize the thesis for you. The thesis was 85 pages long and the results alone take up more than 40 pages :P But to sum up, I found out that there are three main features in his spoken language: his inappropriate response obviously, his tendency to repeat things, and his ability to actually understand non-literal meaning this one surprised me greatly. I’d been reading about autism long before I did my research so I was fully expecting that the guy to be unable to understand anything that wasn’t literal, but I was taken aback that he actually knew what people were talking about generally. But his understanding was really random and he tended to messed up more, particulally when he was stressed out and he was stressed out a lot. And I also said that he repeated things said to him quite a lot too. I know about a phenomenon called delayed echolalia, which is when an autistic person repeats things they hear without fully understanding what they mean. But the guy seemed to understand at least some of what he repeated, so I don’t know if it was really delayed echolalia. Oh, and he also did that when he was stressed.

As for his written language, he also messed up his figurative speech, but much less frequently than when he spoke. He had an easier time with writing, which is something I already guessed based on my knowledge of autism. But he was also influenced very strongly by other people, and he copied their style of writing sometimes. For example, when people asked him multiple questions, naturally he would write a wall of text without separating each question, but if someone actually separated the questions in their email, he would do the same with his email. It would go like this:

- Situation 1 – someone asked him several questions without separating their questions:

Person A: How do you spend your free time? And what kind of music do you like?
CWC: I spend my free time playing video game. Rock music.

- Situation 2 – someone asked him several questions and separated their questions:

Person B: First, how do you spend your free time? And second, what kind of music do you like?
CWC: First, spend my free time playing video game. And second: I like rock music.

All in all, the thesis has been a wild ride for me. I got to learn some things about autism and language too. It really opened my eyes.

LostInParadise's avatar

Thanks, very interesting.
I thought the big problem with autism was being able to read other people’s emotions, and that, on their own, autistic people were good at solving problems.

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